Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, in his first interview since winning the 2008 election, lifted the veil on his role in the transition, and what kinds of vice president he wants to be.
"I think we should restore the balance here," Biden told me. "The role of the vice president of the United States as I see it is to give the president of the United States the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendations he or she can make to a president to help them make some of the very, very important decisions that have to be made"
Biden said he got a commitment from Barack Obama that he’ll be "in the room" on every major economic, political, and foreign policy decision.
"When Barack Obama, Senator Barack Obama then talked to me about being his vice president I said we have to – let’s talk and we spent three and a half hours talking and one of the things I asked was, I said I don’t want to be picked unless you’re picking me for my judgment. I don’t want to be the guy that goes out and has a specific assignment – an important assignment to reinvent government, which Al Gore did a great job of. Dealing with some specific discrete item. I said I want a commitment from you that in every important decision you’ll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy, I’ll get to be in the room," Biden said.
Has Obama kept his promise? I asked Biden.
"He’s kept it. Every single solitary appointment he has made thus far I have been in the room, the recommendations I have made in most cases coincidentally have been the recommendations that he’s picked. Not because I made them but because we think a lot alike. I have been there for every one of those meetings," he said.
Biden will chair a middle class task force that will include other Cabinet members, including Labor, Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, Education, etc.
"The one thing we use as a yardstick of economic success of our administration, is the middle class growing? Is the middle class getting better? Is the middle class no longer being left behind?And we’ll look at everything from college affordability to after school programs. The things that affect people’s daily lives. I will be the guy honchoing that policy," he said.
Biden said he’s also been meeting separately and collectively with the foreign policy team: Obama’s nominees’ for national security advisor, secretary of state, and secretary of defense.
"One of my tasked responsibilities is to work with that group to come up with a baseline for the president as to what we view the circumstance we’re inheriting in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan so that we don’t accept, we may or may not accept, all these reports are being done," he said.
"It’s ultimately the national security adviser’s job," Biden said. "I’m just the guy that’s honchoing this baseline study. And so that requires coordination and look, as you well know, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the national security advisor have their hands full on a whole range of issues. So there are going to be things that have cross-jurisdiction a lot of the time."